Thursday, February 14, 2013

US Women Defeat Scotland, More Stars Developing

Article by Leanne Elston

The US Women’s National Team defeated Scotland 3-1 today with goals from Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach, and Christen Press. The match was the second in a pair of friendlies against Scotland and marks the US’ last game before they head to Portugal to participate in the Algarve Cup.

Coach Tom Sermanni made plenty of changes to the lineup that started on Saturday. Hope Solo returned to goal with Ali Krieger, Whitney Engen, Rachel Buehler, and Kelley O’Hara making up the backline. Heather O’Reilly, Shannon Boxx, Lauren Cheney, and Megan Rapinoe patrolled the midfield, while Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach started up front. One noteworthy exclusion was Alex Morgan, who left Saturday’s game injured with a twisted left ankle and was day-to-day leading up to this game.

While the US unsurprisingly dominated most of the game, Scotland started out with an opportunity in the 5th minute when a defensive header from the US fell to a Scottish player in the box. The resulting shot, though, was over the bar, and Solo looked to have had it covered.

The US took over from there. In the 13th minute, Wambach beat her defender in the air and although her header was on frame, it was also straight at the goalkeeper. Cheney took a left-footed shot from inside the 18 that was just wide in the 16th minute, and Wambach almost had another chance in the 17th minute, but Leroux’s pass was behind her.

Rapinoe opened the scoring on 21 minutes with a brilliant goal. After bringing the ball down, she got herself into space and struck the ball with the outside of her right foot, curling a shot into the back of the net.

The rest of the first half stayed mostly in the US’ control. The 39th minute saw a slew of chances in quick succession for the home side as the ball pinged around the penalty area, but nothing materialized and the ball was eventually cleared. The US entered halftime leading Scotland 1-0, although Scotland did play a better first half in this match than they did on Saturday.

With no subs to start the second half, the US wasted little time in getting going again. Leroux nutmegged her defender in the 48th minute and found space for herself, but her shot curled well off target. Then, in the 51st minute, Leroux’s cross found Wambach in the center, and Wambach buried a diving header to put the US up 2-0. It was Wambach’s 153rd international goal, scored on the night of her 200th cap; she is now just five goals behind Mia Hamm’s all-time record.

Scotland almost got onto the scoresheet in the 56th minute, but the left-footed shot was just wide. O’Reilly returned the favor a few minutes later with a curled shot over the bar.

Christen Press, who scored a brace in her US debut on Saturday, came on for Wambach in the 61st minute. She immediately made an impact in the 64th minute. A pass from Boxx found Press unmarked in space, and Press took the time to line up a shot that sailed into the back of the net and gave the US the 3-0 lead.

Carli Lloyd replaced Boxx after 67 minutes, while Crystal Dunn, earning her first cap, replaced Krieger in the 69th minute. Ten minutes later, Tobin Heath came on for Leroux, who had been active all night and effective up top in place of Alex Morgan. The last US substitution came in the 85th minute, with Lori Lindsey replacing O’Hara.

Scotland caught the US almost completely by surprise in the 81st minute. Emma Mitchell lofted a perfect pass up to Suzanne Grant, whose one touch directed the ball past a stunned Solo. Grant was earning her 100th cap with Scotland.

The US finished out the match comfortably and look well prepared for their next competition. Sermanni has chosen some new faces to add to the squad, but otherwise the team is the same powerhouse we saw under Pia Sundhage.

The US’ next match will be against Iceland in the Algarve Cup. That one will be March 6th at 9:00 AM ET.

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